PETALING JAYA: Amendments to the Federal Constitution are needed to legitimise the existence of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), says G25 founding member Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim.
"If they want to let Jakim exist, they should take action to regularise it," he told reporters after the launching of G25's report on the "Administration of Matters Pertaining to Islam" on Saturday. (Jan 11)
Datuk Dr Narimah Awin, who moderated a discussion session on the report, said G25 was asking for a restructuring of Jakim, not its abolishment.
"It is an option which the government could take, and there are also other recommendations (in the report) such as a restructuring of Jakim," she added.
Mohd Sheriff said Article 38 of the Federal Constitution did not empower the Conference of Rulers to set up the National Council for Islamic Affairs (NCIA) and Jakim.
"If the rulers feel Jakim is important, they (the Government) should make amendments to the Article," he added.
There were calls from several quarters in 2018for Jakim to be abolished, shortly after Pakatan Harapan took over Putrajaya.
Jakim, which was set in 1997, serves as the secretariat to the NCIA for the development of Islam and missionary work.
The Department, which has about 1,400 staff members, was given a RM1.3bil budget for 2020.
G25's report also addressed issues such as child marriages, apostasy laws and jurisdiction with regard to religious education.
Mohd Sherrif said that G25 would submit the report to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department for Religious Affairs Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa soon.
He noted that the report, which took more than two years to compile, included recommendations on possible actions the Government could take towards improving Islamic administration.
On Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad temporarily helming the Education Ministry, Mohd Sheriff said he was hoping for some positive changes.
"We know he is very much in favour of increasing the teaching of English and wants to make sure religion is taught properly.
"He also wants to see more multiracial attendance in our schools.
"These are good thoughts and I hope he can bring about the changes," he said.
On Friday (Jan 10), Dr Mahathir announced the Cabinet's decision for him to temporarily hold the post of Education Minister following Dr Maszlee Malik's resignation on Jan 2.
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